Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of diagnostic imaging for temporomandibular joint rheumatoid arthritis (TMJ RA). Inflammation of the TMJ has a high correlation (> 17%) with the late stages of RA. Clinical recognition of TMJ RA using diagnostic imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), is limited to osseous and soft tissue components of the TMJ. Positron emission tomography (PET) and positron emission tomography/CT (PET/CT) are novel technologies that have shown increasing relevance in the detection and management of TMJ RA.
Method and materials: Following the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis (PRISMA, 2009) guidelines, and using databases such as PubMed, Ovid Medline, Google Scholar, Web of Science, Scopus, and EBSCOhost, 94 publications were identified, and 27 studies were selected for this systematic review. A flowchart of the comprehensive study selection was generated. Quality assessment and data extraction were performed independently by three reviewers.
Results: It was noted that two-dimensional radiographs, CBCT, multidetector CT, and MRI are the most commonly used methods in TMJ RA assessment, although they are not useful for determination of active disease. MRI has excellent contrast resolution and can acquire dynamic imaging for demonstration of the functionality of the TMJ. CT and ultrasound imaging also have specific indication in imaging the TMJ. PET used in conjunction with CT is the only imaging modality that can quantify TMJ RA in active disease.
Conclusions: PET/CT images provide unique quantitative information that cannot be obtained from any other imaging modalities.